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Mountaineer Christine Harella denies ignoring a dying man on a K2 climb

Mountaineer Christine Harella denies ignoring a dying man on a K2 climb

News

August 11, 2023 | 11:08 a.m

A Norwegian mountaineer has denied allegations that members of her climbing team walked over a dying porter and did nothing to help him during their record-breaking K2 climb in Pakistan last month.

Christine Harila, 37, insisted that the climbers did everything they could to save Mohamed Hassan, after the 27-year-old married to a father of three collapsed from a narrow ledge, but the conditions were too dangerous to move him.

“It is simply not true to say that we did nothing to help him,” Hrela said he told the Telegraph. We tried to mount it again for an hour and a half and the photographer stayed for another hour to take care of it. He was never left alone.”

Harila, who, along with Nepalese Sherpa Tengin (Lama) Sherpa, became the world’s fastest climbers to scale all peaks above 26,000 feet, was forced to defend her actions after drone footage emerged showing mountaineers clambering over Hassan on the snow-capped summit.

Australian climbers Wilhelm Steindl and Philipp Flemig, who were on K2 that day and filmed the video, accused Harela and her colleagues of abandoning Hassan in pursuit of a new world record.

Christine Harella, 37, has denied leaving her porter while dying on the K2 after she was involved in an accident during her record-breaking climb in July.
AFP via Getty Images
Muhammad Hassan, 27, married to a father of three, died after falling from a narrow ledge while ascending Harila.
Alpine adventure guides

“It’s being processed by one person while others push it up,” Flammig told the Austrian Standard newspaper, referring to the recording. “The truth is that there was no organized rescue even though there were Sherpas and mountain guides on site who could have taken action.”

Steindl said Hassan was “treated like a second-class human being”.

He added, “If he had been a Westerner, he would have been saved on the spot.” “Nobody felt responsible for it. What happened there is a disgrace. A living human being was left lying so records could be made.”

Steindl, who claimed to have visited Hassan’s family after his death, said the 27-year-old had no mountaineering experience, but took a job as a rope fixer on the K2 trek to pay for his ailing mother’s medical bills.

Harila who published a A detailed account of what happened is on its official website Thursday, he said, the porter was ascending one of the world’s deadliest peaks without a snowsuit, gloves or an oxygen supply.

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Drone footage released by other climbers showed people walking over the dying porter while a member of the Herila team tended him.
Twitter /northerner_the

Harila made history on July 27 when she became the fastest climber to reach the 14 highest mountains in the world, achieving the feat in 92 days and breaking the previous record of 189 days set in 2019.

This year was her second record attempt to become the fastest climber of the 14 summits.

Herila said K2, the last mountain on her list, was the hardest to conquer. K2 is the second highest peak in the world.

After a hero’s welcome at Kathmandu Airport in Nepal upon her return from the summit, Harila announced she was retiring from the high peaks.

Harila wrote in her account of the events of July 27 that she waited two weeks to comment on the fatal incident out of respect for Hassan’s family, but decided to share her side of the story to counter what she described as “misinformation and hate”. This is now spreading.”

The accident occurred on a narrow, ice-covered ridge known as the “bottleneck”.
Twitter /northerner_the
Harila said the Nepali Sherpa kept going up because they were led to believe that Hassan’s help was on the way.
Twitter /northerner_the

“I also feel outraged by the number of people blaming others for this tragic accident,” the pioneering mountaineer wrote. “It wasn’t anyone’s fault, you can’t comment when you don’t understand the situation, and sending death threats is absolutely okay.”

Harila argued that she, her Sherpaha and especially her cameraman Gabriel, did everything they could to save Hassan from what she described as “the most dangerous part of the most dangerous mountain in the world”.

The mountaineer recounted how she and several teams were making their way through a dangerous part of the trek to the summit of K2, known as the “bottleneck,” when Hassan, who was walking forward as part of a rope repair team, “fell and was hanging on the rope between Two ice stabilizers.

Hurila said she didn’t know if Hassan had slipped, or if a patch of snow had collapsed under him.

Harila, 37, said she spent more than an hour trying to help Hassan after he fell.
Twitter /northerner_the

By Herila’s estimates, Hassan fell about 16 feet and ended up hanging upside down, with his stomach exposed to the snow and freezing temperatures.

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Harila described in detail her team’s efforts to recover Hassan. Since he didn’t have an oxygen mask to breathe more easily in the thin air, the climber photographers gave him his mask and stayed with him.

“As we were trying to push Hassan up the road, an avalanche occurred around the corner where the repair team was,” Harila wrote. “We got the message that they had problems. At this point we decided to separate. Gabriel stayed with Hassan and his bottleneck friend.”

Harila recounted that after spending an hour and a half with Hassan, she and Sherpa approached her to see if they could help the other team after hearing the distress call.

After learning the repair team was safe, Harila said she stayed and asked the other porters if they were turning around to where Hassan was, leading her to believe more help was on the way.

“We decided to go ahead because too many people in the bottleneck would make the rescue even more dangerous,” Herila explained. “Looking at how many people stayed behind and turned, I thought Hassan would get all the help he could get, that he would be able to get off. We didn’t fully understand the severity of it all until later.”

Hurila also addressed images of people walking over the dying bodies of porters, arguing that other climbers were just trying to get away from the “dangerous bottleneck” that lies more than 26,200 feet above sea level.

This photo taken on July 15, 2023 shows a Pakistani porter looking towards K2, the second highest mountain in the world in the Karakoram mountain range.
AFP via Getty Images

Meanwhile, Gabriel, a photographer who helped pull Hassan into the hills, gave him more oxygen and hot water to keep him warm “as best he could,” Hurila wrote.

More than two hours into the harrowing ordeal, Gabriel noticed he had almost no oxygen left, and Harila wrote that he “realized that if he himself wanted to go home that day,” he needed to fetch more oxygen from another Sherpa climbing ahead. . .

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“In all, I think Gabriel spent close to 2.5 hours with Hassan in a bottleneck while people were passing by,” Harila noted. “I don’t think people understood the seriousness of what was happening with Hassan as they climbed up, and that’s why we see them skip him to get to safety on the other side.”

At the same time, the Norwegian and her team members were continuing their climb to the top, believing, according to Harila, that Hassan was receiving all the necessary help.

When Gabriel later joins the rest of the group in the climax, he tells Harila that Hassan is still alive but in bad shape and may not make it to K2 level. If not until the mountaineers descended from the mountain, they knew that the porter had died.

Harila insisted that she and her team were “in no position to carry his body down” — an effort that usually requires six people — given their physical condition and the treacherous terrain.

Harila and her Sherpa, Tenjen (Lama) Sherpa, became the fastest climbers in the world to climb all 14 summits above 26,200 feet, achieving the feat in 92 days.
AP

When the climbers reached base camp, Hurila said she heard talk that no one was helping well – though she said they “did their best”.

Huraylah also criticized those who shared videos and photos of Hassan’s corpse on the hills, saying it was disrespectful.

“He was an important person to so many people and we should not only remember him as someone who moved K2,” the climber wrote.

Thaneswar Gurujay, general manager of Seven Summits that organized Harila’s trek, told the Telegraph that Hassan was suffering from frostbite and hyperthermia when he died.

The K2 tragedy, Harila said, should serve as a reminder that “everyone who climbs to the top needs proper training, proper equipment, and proper guidance” — something Hassan appears to be lacking.

She added that while the accident was in no way the man’s fault, “it shows the importance of taking all possible precautions so that we can help ourselves and others.”


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